Rebel Green donates a portion of its sales to Water.org and the WaterCredit program, supporting the cause to deliver clean, safe water to people in need all over the world. This particular article from Water.org illustrates why this mission is so important, digging deeper into the stories of four women whose lives were forever changed by access to safe water.

Ester Kenya landlord WaterCredit Water.org

Ester rents rooms to a number of families in Kigiru Village in Nairobi, Kenya. She has taken WaterCredit loans to get two large water tanks, which provide her tenant families with access to safe water as part of their rent. Photo by Water.org

Each day, women who lack access to water and sanitation resources spend 125 million hours collecting water for their families, and 266 million hours finding a place to relieve themselves.

To collect all water they need for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning – women walk miles, carry heavy vessels, wait for hours and often pay exorbitant prices. The work is all-consuming. Once they are old enough, girls join this effort.

Indonesia snack shop Neni WaterCredit Water.org

Neni took out a WaterCredit loan to install a toilet in her home in Tangerang, Indonesia. This has given her time to run her snack shop, which generates an income to repay her loan and provide for her family. Photo by Water.org

Globally, 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet. In many countries, it is not acceptable for women to relieve themselves in the open during the day, so they wait for nightfall, just to have privacy. This impacts health and puts their safety at risk. About half of all girls worldwide attend schools without toilets. The lack of privacy causes many girls to drop out when they reach puberty.

For decades, the water and sanitation sector has approached water and sanitation access for the poor through raising money and disbursing it to cover the cost of wells and toilets. This charity-led approach is not sustainable or scalable at a level needed to confront the global water crisis.

Tabitha Kenya salon WaterCredit Water.org

Tabitha used to pay her Nairobi, Kenya, neighbors $35-$70/month to use their well, so she took out a WaterCredit loan that cost $40/month to buy her own rainwater catchment system. She paid off the loan in one year, and now she puts her extra money toward her salon in Rongai. Photo by Water.org

For a large segment of the poor, charity dollars are not necessarily needed as much as access to finance. Water.org has found that women around the world have great potential to take hold of their family’s water and sanitation needs; when they get back the time once spent collecting water or looking for a safe place to go, they can attend school, work to earn incomes and ultimately fund their own solutions.

We believe that hundreds of millions of those lacking critical water and sanitation services can be reached by continuing to remove financial and other roadblocks, allowing them to move from unserved potential beneficiaries to empowered customers.

Water.org is seeing great success in challenging the traditional charity model by empowering the poor to define their own futures. Through WaterCredit, the poor can finance the construction of their own solutions like a water tap or toilet. To date, Water.org has served more than 3.3 million people through this approach. And of those served, more than 90% of the loans were borrowed by women who repaid them at a repayment rate of 99%.

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